A cone of yellow light engulfs the darkness around your body. You kick the podium before you and a thud echoes into the stage below you. You stare into a sea of patient faces and pale eyes, all looking at you. You wipe the sweat from your hands onto your new suit and try to begin the speech……but your mind goes blank.
Anxiety is a nationwide epidemic, so much so that the fear public speaking can be greater than that of death itself. At its roots, Anxiety is created from the fear of dealing with a difficult emotion. It’s the fear of having to deal with defeat, disappointment, or embarrassment. The key here is emotions alone can’t take your house or break your leg. They don’t actually even exist. They are just a figment of your imagination!
Since fear is at the root of anxiety the body reacts in near the same way: The heart starts racing, thinking becomes one dimensional, and body gets overall ready for fight or flight. Unless things have changed since my last interview, this poses a real problem because the ability to think multidimensionality is much more important than being ready for a cage match.
Lucky for us, God gave us these great little brains that can change our perception of any event. All you have to do is know how to use it. Steps for changing anxiety into confidence with SCIENCE:
Take a moment to understand your anxiety and its roots
Trying to suppress anxiety is about as effective as trying to use a giant quark from stopping a volcano from exploding. Instead, I’ve found that it is better to just accept anxiety as it comes and tell yourself: “Oh hey I’m starting to get nervous because deep down I don’t want to battle uncomfortable emotions even though emotions are just a figment of my imagination, but whatever.”
Understanding Your Body and its Reaction
Before your mind goes blank or you start to pit like a lifeguard in a fur coat, you will get butterflies in your stomach. This is the prime time to conquer anxiety with the stupid but effective method of talking to yourself: “Oh hey look my body is starting to produce chemicals that make me feel uncomfortable” Now read that again, but like you were talking to a puppy and add sarcasm.
Disassociation Between the Fear and the Reaction
No matter how hard you try, your body will still react in a situation that makes you any bit anxious. This is why it is important to disassociate the reaction from the actual fear of speaking, interviewing, or whatever. Here’s how the self-conversations differ from normal:
Normal method (Bad method): “I have butterflies in my stomach and I’m terrified of talking to all these people, maybe I’ll play sick or just memorize my one line, that way I don’t screw up”
Good method: “Hey look, uncomfortable emotions are making my body feel funny”
In Sophomore biology we learned that form follows function. This means that things will basically operate according to how they look. A tiny animal with giant powerful back legs will jump an animal with sharp horns will fight to defend itself. These same principles apply to changing emotions. If you want to change from fear to confidence uncross your arms and legs and strike a superman pose. Click here for a more in depth explanation of this subtle art.